The failed intelligentsia
The massacre during the weekend at Pulwama where seven civilians, who were unarmed, were put to death has raised many questions about the way the armed forces have started to legitimize their operations in Kashmir.
The deaths especially in south Kashmir have not occurred for the first time. This phenomenon has been turning into a routine since the past three years now. However, what is note worthy is the way adopted by the forces while dealing with the civil unrest is quite disturbing.
We have seen vandalization of property; private vehicles and more recently even orchards were targeted by the forces in various parts of south Kashmir. These actions were covered up by the fanatic elements which include the paid media in Delhi which glorifies every act of armed forces under the garb of national interest.
The latest round of killings in Pulwama have suggested that the forces have been given to understand that Kashmiris are to be taken for granted without even giving a damn care for their rights.
Any protest by civilians against the armed forces is dealt with brute force and use of fire arms has become the first and the last choice for the forces. No wonder then that the killings and injuries that took place on Saturday suggest targeting of upper body by the forces as all the slain young men were having bullet wounds on their heads or chest.
Similarly, the four dozen people that are fighting the grievous injuries too have been targeted above the waist line suggesting the intention of the armed forces was to kill, that too with impunity.
One wonders as to why no one is raising questions on the use of fire arms to quell any sort of protests. The intentional use of firearms should be done only when it becomes strictly unavoidable in order to protect life, and law enforcement officials should distinguish between persons engaging in violence and peaceful demonstrators.
But when it comes to Kashmir, the forces are taken over by a frenzied state of mind with no one bothering to question their intentions. Worse even, they are complimented for killing innocent civilians and the world rights bodies too maintain a silence.
What has led to this sort of trend needs a serious probe? The people who claim to represent us in the legislature and other bodies also need to come clean on this. No political party irrespective of the fact that which ideology they belong to have ever bothered to raise and try to answer these questions.
We had the National Conference issuing a statement calling for the use of non-lethal weapons while dealing with protests and protestors. Even their leader went to the extent of suggesting use of water cannons by the forces. But can this NC leader provide an answer to the people that why did his party not use non-lethal weapons when they were in power in 2016, when more than 120 teenagers were killed in forces action during the summer unrest.
The legitimacy to use lethal weapons against unarmed Kashmiri’s has been provided by these mainstream political parties and now even if they raise a hue and cry on the issue, they will find no takers.
The onus of protecting the lives of people in Kashmir lies on the civil society and the intelligentsia in India who claim to be part of saner voices when it comes to protection of civil rights and liberties. Though, a trend has been set by former SC Judge Markandey Kathju, but alas, he has got no followers so far.